Assad thanks UAE for 'huge' aid as death toll hits 33,000 in Turkey, Syria earthquake

Abdullah bin Zayed visits affected areas, discusses humanitarian repercussions of quake with the Syrian President

By Agencies

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Damaged and collapsed buildings in the aftermath of an earthquake, in rebel-held town of Jandaris, Syria February 11, 2023. Photo: Reuters
Damaged and collapsed buildings in the aftermath of an earthquake, in rebel-held town of Jandaris, Syria February 11, 2023. Photo: Reuters

Published: Sun 12 Feb 2023, 6:54 PM

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday thanked the United Arab Emirates for its emergency response and tens of millions pledged in aid to the quake-hit country, the presidency said.

"The UAE was among the first countries that stood with Syria and sent huge relief and humanitarian aid and search and rescue teams," Assad said during a meeting in Damascus with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Sheikh Abdullah arrived in Syria on Sunday, six days after a devastating earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, killing more than 33,000 people in total, including over 3,500 in Syria alone.

Bashar al-Assad meets with UAE's Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in Damascus, Syria February 12, 2023. Photo: Reuters
Bashar al-Assad meets with UAE's Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in Damascus, Syria February 12, 2023. Photo: Reuters

During the meeting, UAE's foreign minister conveyed the condolences and solace of the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to al-Assad, the Syrian people, and families of the victims, and prayed to Allah the Almighty to have mercy on them and quick recovery of the injured.

His visit is the first by a senior Gulf official since the 7.8-magnitude quake hit.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

The UAE pledged some $13.6 million to Syria after the disaster before announcing another $50 million in assistance.

The UAE has dispatched planes to Turkey and Syria with emergency aid, food, medical supplies and rescue teams.

"Sixteen Emirati planes have arrived in Syria since the earthquake hit," said Suleiman Khalil, an official at Syria's transport ministry.

"Around the clock, Emirati planes have been providing an air bridge for those affected by the earthquake."

The Emirati search and rescue team has been based in the Syrian coastal city of Jableh since Friday, where they have set up a base camp. They have worked at several locations, scouring the rubble for survivors and remains of the dead.

The Syrian President asked Sheikh Abdullah to reciprocate his greetings and thanks to Sheikh Mohamed, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, and Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU), Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation (FDF), and Mother of Nation for providing assistance to the Syrian people.

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